Thursday, July 21, 2011

Taking Inventory: The Defensive Line

Defensive line has long been a team strength for TCU under coach Gary Patterson. Last year, the D-line accounted for 17.5 of the team's 27 sacks and helped hold opponents to just 99.7 rush yards per game and just 228.5 total yards per contest. Lost to graduation are the very solid Wayne Daniels, Cory Grant and Kelly Griffin, but as usual there is plenty of talent ready to go on the defensive side of the line of scrimmage.

The starting defensive bookends this fall will be sophomore Stansly Maponga (6-2, 265) and senior Braylon Broughton (6-6, 272). As a full-time starter in his redshirt freshman season a year ago, Maponga recorded 32 tackles, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble on his way to 2nd Team All-MWC and 2nd Team Freshman All-America honors. Broughton, who is perhaps the most physically intimidating athlete on the Frogs' roster, is finally ready to step into a starting role after three years as a reserve. He had at least one tackle in every game last year, and broke up two passes while also recording his first career sack. If one or both of these guys realize and fulfill their enormous potential this fall, watch out!

Unfortunately, the injury bug has already struck the depth behind Maponga and Broughton. Sophomore Matt Anderson (6-3, 245), who played in 8 games as a true freshman last fall and was being counted on to be a key contributor in his second season, will miss all of 2011 with an injury. Junior Ross Forrest (6-4, 265), a former walk-on who burst onto the scene as a true freshman in 2008, started one game last year and is the most experience reserve end. Redshirt freshmen Blake Roberts (6-4, 242) and Cliff Murphy (6-4, 260) both spent last year bulking up after stellar high school careers, and will hopefully provide quality depth. Junior walk-on Jon Koontz (6-2, 230) is also listed on the depth chart.

Inside, juniors DJ Yendrey (6-4, 273) and Jeremy Coleman (6-2, 290) are slated to be the starting defensive tackles. Yendrey, a converted end, has been very impressive, totalling 31 tackles and 5 sacks in his first two seasons. He started the last 5 games of 2010 after Kelly Griffin broke his ankle against Air Force. Coleman, who was a major recruiting victory for TCU has played in 24 games over the past two seasons, is ready to step in as the hole-clogging nose tackle in the Patterson 4-2-5.

Backing up Yendrey and Coleman will be sophomore Ray Burns (6-1, 290) and redshirt freshman David Johnson (6-2, 270). Burns, who has yet to play in a game at TCU, reportedly had a very impressive spring that caught the eye of Coach Patterson. Johnson is a weight-room addict with an incessant motor. Sophomore Bryant House (6-4, 297), who was a high school teammate of Burns and James Dunbar at Maud HS, has also yet to contribute on the field but was part of Dave Campbell's Texas Football's Super Team his senior year.

Three impressive true freshmen will be suiting up for the Frogs this fall, and all are currently listed at tackle. Chuck Hunter (6-1, 305) and Davion Pierson (6-2, 318) both have the size to be able to challenge for playing time right away on the inside. Jon Lewis (6-2, 275) may end up at tackle or end in his time at TCU.

How big of a concern is the defensive line to you? Do you think they can match last year's sack totals, and who do you think will lead the team in that category this fall? Who do you think will step up into stardom this fall, and who do you see dominating on the D-line in future years for the Frogs? The comments section awaits your opinions...

More Rose Bowl stuff? Yes, please

Even though most of your time nowadays is spent counting down to the 2011 season (it's 43 days, FYI), Greg Tepper of Dave Campbell's Texas Football thought it'd be appropriate to take one last look at the defining play of last season's Rose Bowl (I say last, as if I won't go back and watch it on my DVR at least 5-6 more times before the season starts). Enjoy:

Film School: The Rose Bowl Two-Point conversion

Sorry Andy Richter, but UT Controls the Universe.

This is basically UT's attitude towards the rest of the NCAA.

The University of Texas. Just typing that name causes my blood pressure to rise and hate to fill my soul, especially if everytime you say it all you can hear is bongo enthusiast Matthew McConaghey's voice. They represent everything the world hates about America - Greed, corruption, megalomania, domestic abuse, you name it. Despite my feelings, though, I cannot deny that they are, hands down, the biggest fish in the NCAA pond. This was true even before Ohio State got kicked in the nuts for their own brand of arrogance. Both schools boast huge stadiums, huge football revenues and huge enrollments, but the difference is that the NCAA would never touch UT. Not in a million years, especially with the invention of the ESPN sponsored Longhorn Network.

Just in case you all somehow forgot the events of last summer, just remember one thing: UT almost destroyed the current landscape of college football. No other school could do that. Heck, no other collection of schools could do that outside of the entire SEC disbanding or something like that. The only thing that kept it all together was the Pac 10 shutting down the idea of the inevitable Longhorn Network and the Big 12 basically bending over and letting OU, aggy and, namely, UT give it to them however they liked. Those three schools get exponentially more money than the rest, but now that UT has their $300 million deal with ESPN, despite what the other two will tell you, the Big 12 is 100% UT and everybody else.

Seriously, you think you hate UT now, but just wait until the network launches. Since they will be intrinsically tied to ESPN, the amount of slobbing they get on that network will increase tenfold and we will just be forced to accept it as a "business decision." And who is going to stop them? They're only the biggest sports conglomerate in the world. Everyone can throw up their hands in protest, but what are you going to do, stop watching ESPN? Please.

It seemed, for a time, that everyone was just going to have to live with this new reality. But with the recent announcement that UT planned to air the high school games of featured recruits on the Longhorn Network, we may need to brace ourselves for Conference realignment round... whatever round we're in now. 2?

So your first reaction to that should be, "What. The. Fuck? With the NCAA getting on its sanctioning horse and punishing schools for giving recruits $5 for a cheeseburger, how can this POSSIBLY fly?" And, to some extent, you'd be right. For now. Big 12 Commissions Dan Beebe, hearing the cries of the rest of the Conference - ok, so he only really listens to aggy and OU, but that's called prioritizing and everyone does it - put the kibosh on that idea until there can be a mutually agreed upon resolution by all members. But again, really just aggy and OU, as they have already fired up a second round of rumors in regards to joining the SEC; SEC Commish Mike Slive neither confirmed nor denied these rumors, which should have folks from Waco to Ames shivering in their boots. OU has even gone so far as to suggest they could start their own network to counter UT's, but I'm pretty sure this is just a bluff because I'm not even certain they have electricity in all parts of Oklahoma yet.

The arrogance of UT knows no bounds, and this particular way they have chosen to give the middle finger to the rest of the NCAA is a new low. I mean, outside of flat out handing recruits envelopes full of money - something that I'm not denying happens down there - could there be a bigger recruiting advantage? "Come spoon with UT during the recruiting process - we'll put you on national television!" Let's face it - we have no idea what it's like to be a high level high school football recruit. But imagine yourself as a 17-18 year old and then amplify everything by about 7000 and that's about how it is. You're cocky. You're arrogant. You think you are the most important person in the world and no one can tell you otherwise. Think about how "cool" it was to go down to Austin for Roundup. Again, amplify that by about 7000 and that's Jonathan's Gray life at present. Not that I'm singling him out, but you get the gist. Most recruits get one look at Sixth Street and are sold; If UT gets their way, these kids will have been on University and ESPN sponsored television possibly months before they even set foot on campus and everyone they run into will know them by name. Who could compete with that?

While I can't envision a situation where this is actually allowed to happen THIS year, just the fact that it has even come up is pretty effing irritating, isn't it? And, you're absolutely kidding yourself if you think this is all going to go away. ESPN shows high school football games with some regularity during the year. Wouldn't it just be SO weird and ironic if, say, Aledo HS was featured heavily in the rotation this upcoming season? Or QB Connor Brewer's HS in Arizona?

Personally, I think this is another domino falling in the process of UT becoming an Independent. Not that the NCAA would not eventually step in and put a hold on their plans, but to this point the only ones who seem concerned are OU and aggy, and they would very likely have SEC sponsored Golden Parachutes in place if they become unenamored with UT continuing to call the shots. In other words, they probably aren't going to get too far out of their comfort zones when fighting this because they have more lucrative backup plans available.

But if they did? UT calls the whole thing off, takes their $300 mill. and becomes Notre Dame on steroids. And with ESPN fully behind them and the reality that they are the NCAAs flagship program, who is going to tell them they can't do whatever the heck they want with their TV network? I can't envision a situation where TCU would ever actually overtake UT as the undisputed team of Texas - on field results do not matter in that battle and never will - but if current trends continue, it will no longer be a race. For anyone. And that just makes me sick to my stomach.

For their part, UT is playing politics and saying the right things. Some choice quotes from Athletic Director/Mercurial Overlord DeLoss Dodds:

“We want to play by the rules,”..... “We want everything to be in the open with integrity. We’re for the conference.”

“ESPN knows we don’t want to violate any NCAA rules. They don’t want us to,”

“That would not be a way we want a recruiting advantage. This will be a service to high school football. We don’t want it tied to Texas.”

Pardon my French, but that's about the biggest crock of festering bullshit I've ever heard. If Texas was so FOR the conference, why would they create their own network outside of it and attempt to join the Pac 10 last year as financial leverage? If UT was so FOR the Conference, wouldn't they have INSISTED that everyone get a fair shake from the new TV arrangement they signed last year? If UT was so FOR the Conference, why on Earth would Nebraska and Colorado have left last year? If Texas didn't want a recruiting advantage, WHY THE FUCK WOULD THEY BE MAKING A PROPOSAL TO SHOW THEIR OWN RECRUITS ON THEIR NETWORK?!?! But, then again, they did go 2-6 in Conference play last year, so perhaps they really are giving back. And taking the disaster that is Garrett Gilbert off of the radars of other Conference teams was a pretty considerate of them as well.

But the, "ESPN doesn't want us to commit violations" remark could be the most telling. Clearly the Four Letter wouldn't want it's business partner to commit violations and diminish their asset, but as ESPN is one of the most corrupt, bottom line driven organizations in the world, good luck fighting that battle, NCAA. With ESPN controlling the flow of information in college football, this partnership with UT basically makes the school untouchable. DeLoss' comment wasn't so much a statement, it was a dare.

Maybe the NCAA and the Big 12 will put UT in their place. Maybe ESPN will decide not to shit where they eat. Maybe UT will get smacked with recruiting violations and last year's season will be seen as a harbinger instead of an aberration I could be wrong about my doomsday UT hostile takeover scenario. But I sincerely doubt it.

Sorry guys, I intended this to be far more hateful for UT, but the reality of the situation just made me depressed for the future more than anything. It basically took an Act of Congress to keep the Big 12 together last year. It may take an Act of God now. I guess we better cheer for the Mayans if we want it all to end. I'm going to go cry in the shower now.

Morning Dump




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